MANILA (AFP) -The Philippines on Friday hailed deceased Saudi King Abdullah as a fighter of extremism who worked to improve conditions for Filipino migrant workers in the kingdom.
“The late King was a courageous, generous, and visionary leader who introduced policy changes in education and infrastructure. He was a champion in fighting extremism,” the foreign department said in a statement.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos work in Saudi Arabia, fleeing high rates of poverty and joblessness at home to look for better job opportunities.
“The King’s receptiveness to the concerns of the Filipino government helped improve the welfare and prospects of our countrymen in Saudi Arabia,” President Benigno Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said.
Valte cited the king’s pardoning of condemned Filipino prisoners and agreeing on a standard work contract for members of its imported workforce.
The Philippines and the Saudi government signed a landmark five-year agreement in Jeddah in May 2013 to protect the rights of Filipino domestic workers from underpayment and cruel or inhumane treatment by their employers.
The accord was reached a year after Saudi Arabia lifted a 16-month ban on the hiring of Filipino domestic workers amid a dispute over minimum monthly wages.
The accord led to a fixed minimum salary of around $400 a month, weekly rest days, daily rest periods, and paid vacation.